This is an NGADM 2015 review.
Sooooooo this might be some of the most compressed acoustic-based music I've ever heard :P I can understand the need to sausage it, but sometimes there has to be a limit haha. Don't feel bad though, I was "sausaging it" as recently as a year or two ago. Learning is gradual ^^
So I'd like to talk about production in general and maybe go over some concepts - you're probably already familiar with most of them but analyzing your song in this context is probably the most helpful thing I can do.
While there are no real rules in mastering (like, you don't have to do your mix first and *then* master it like the masters of old might tell you), it's generally helpful to adhere to a structured approach. I don't think the production issues with this song stem simply from "too much master bus compression", because I feel that the balance of the song was probably out before you started mastering it, which only exacerbated some problems. First off, the percussion is really loud. It's about in line with the guitar in the start of the song, but compared to a lot else it's really overpowering, and then the brass that comes in after that is so loud that it squashes even the percussion. The issue with fast attack compression is that it's very effective at squashing transients, and so when you have loud drums and smash them through a limiter you get a lot of audible ducking, and other instruments have a hard time shining through. Then you get in the vicious cycle of "it's not loud enough" and so you turn it up... or at least, that used to be my problem. The leading instruments like the brass are so much stronger than even the percussion, that the mix sounds like it's all over the place even when it doesn't need to be.
What I'd suggest doing is putting some compression on your master bus, but turning it off for most of your mixing process, and getting the balance right before you really master compress. It's true that in most electronic genres, master compression "glues" the mix together, and so it can be necessary to hear how it affects the mix while mixing the song, but here I think that is less important, and because you want a fairly dynamic mix it's more important that the master bus compression simply makes what you already started off with a bit louder. Bring it up to that commercial level, you know?
Anyway, your song sounds pretty good in quieter sections, and the composition itself is enjoyable. The bongos make me think of some kind of jungle video game setting, really strongly. Brings back memories of this terrible old video game called Croc 2 for me :P I think this could be a really great song, just gotta hone your production :)
I like the exotic beat at the beginning. Interesting mood you have here. It’s danceable and catchy, yet also very unique. I think the percussion at the beginning gets buried in the mix too much at :08. You might need to equalize the percussive elements more careful. Compression might also help. The piece has a nice flow and progression about it, but at the same time its continuous energy sort of trivializes the intensity after a while. I would’ve liked to see you keep the listener grounded in the main themes of the piece a bit more by using a breakdown/bridge/re-intro at some point. You have a lot of different melodies here, and they even occasionally compete for attention with each other, like at 2:30. In fact, from 2:30 until about the 3-minute mark, the texture of this piece is way too busy. I would focus on developing one main melody at a time. I think you needed a smoother transition at 3:39 as well. I like a lot of the isolated ideas here, but you have so many of them packed tightly into one track that the piece loses a bit of coherence after a while. There’s another abrupt transition at 4:27. Even a simple crash would’ve helped you connect the two sections on either side of 4:27. I liked the ending, though. My main concerns are the concision and the “overflowing” harmonies. Your listener should be able to digest what’s going on in your piece pretty well at all times, both structurally and harmonically. That means that a casual viewer should a) be able to discern the structure of the piece pretty well and b) understand which instrument is playing the “main melody” at all times. There are some times in this piece where it’s hard to do either of those things. That said, I think this piece could be very solid if you fix those things at the spots I’ve designated above. Hope this helped, and keep at it, man. ;)
This review was written for the Newgrounds Audio Death Match 2015.
...Nimble please soundgoodizer and maximus are not magic sound-good plugins.
...read this. http://blackhole12.newgrounds.com/news/post/363631
I love this
I'm super glad you liked it man, thanks for listening and appreciating :)
This is terrific! There's a very joyful vibe to this that grabbed me right away. Great job on the percussion. Must've been a lot of work to do all that. The solo was a thrill ride. I really got the impression of someone giving their all, playing to a live audience and bringing the house down. Very spontaneous sounding and took the whole thing to a new level. Man, I would love to hear this with a live band especially that soli section at 1:25. That coda was sweet, too. Those pretty chords were nice on the ears after all the intense percussion and gave it a sweet, nostalgic feeling.
I'm glad you liked it Acme! I tried to give it the right groove feel without it being square, and let me tell you that was difficult as hell. The percussion was definitely something I had to give a couple different options to myself to see which one i liked the best. Now that I'm in Uni and some people are interested this was one of the charts talked about in little pow-wows. Thanks for listening and stay on the lookout! :)
Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.